Sorry, LSU Tiger fans, but Les Miles is absolutely wrong to suggest that the SEC change its scheduling format. Although this system seems unfair right now, it’s actually much more balanced than people think, and it allows the conference to keep the traditional rivalries that made it what it is today.
On its surface, it seems like Miles has a legitimate gripe. After all, his permanent crossover opponent is the Florida Gators, who typically finish at or near the top of the East Division every year. Why should his squad have the burden of having to play that type of top-notch competition each season when the Alabama Crimson Tide has the luxury of facing the Tennessee Volunteers—who haven’t been the same since suffering a heartbreaking loss to LSU in the 2007 SEC Championship Game?
Unfortunately, the numbers don’t back him up. Consider the following table, which contains the permanent crossover records for the SEC teams who joined the conference before 1992.
|Team 1||Team 2||Overall||Since 2000|
As the numbers above demonstrate, the records in the permanent crossover series are pretty much even throughout history, especially over the past thirteen seasons.
In other words, the “competitive imbalance” that the anti-crossover advocates cite doesn’t really exist. As is the case with most longstanding rivalries in sports, the wins and losses in the series will gradually even out over time.
With that in mind, the league needs to keep things as they are for the good of everyone involved. After all, the reason the SEC adopted the permanent crossovers approach was to preserve some of the long-standing rivalries that made it such a great conference. If Mike Slive were to change this format, some of the South’s most spirited contests like Alabama-Tennessee, Georgia–Auburn and Ole Miss–Vanderbilt could go as long as six years without playing.
Does the nation’s toughest league really want to table some historically great battles simply because of an alleged competitive imbalance that doesn’t actually exist?
Of course not!
Perhaps Coach Miles should spend his time worrying about more important things—like winning all of the games on the schedule. If his team does that, it’ll end up in the National Championship Game regardless of who the other teams in the conference end up playing each season.